I work in the Dietetics department and found myself seeing things through the eyes of a patient after giving birth to Ava at 28 weeks of pregnancy.

Ava was born weighing 2lbs 6oz and spent the first nine weeks of her life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in the Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre at Burnley General Teaching Hospital.

Our first baby Safwan was born slightly early at 35 weeks but did not need admitting to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Our second son Rohaan was born at 31 weeks and he was cared for in NICU for about six weeks. He has cerebral palsy and is affected by that.

As I’m prone to pre-term labour, I expected to have Ava early but she arrived even earlier than we thought after my waters broke at 28 weeks. She was premature and tiny, and was admitted to NICU where she spent nine weeks. Ava was small but luckily she needed very little support. She was on ventilation for a very short time and then on assisted breathing with CPAP for a few weeks.

The care we received on NICU was absolutely brilliant from admission to discharge. All the nursing staff and doctors were caring and supportive not only to the babies on the unit but also to the parents.

We felt we were always involved in Ava’s care and given any answers we needed and regular updates about everything. Any support we needed was given readily and nothing was too much trouble and the breastfeeding support was excellent.

All this wasn’t done in a really professional and friendly way. I know there can be both good and bad care but I can honestly say that on NICU, all the care was faultless and superb.

I was looked after really well by the trust all the way through my pregnancy and all the care we received as a family was wonderful. I am not biased as someone who works for the Trust but am saying this as a service user and my husband feels completely the same way.

The nurses and doctors were all brilliant, extremely caring towards the babies and very friendly and approachable.

I want to reassure other parents whose baby ends up in NICU that their child will be in safe hands and will be looked after in the best possible way and they will be supported as parents as well.

Don’t be afraid to ask any questions or if there is anything you are unsure of, as the doctors and nurses are so supportive and explain everything really well. 

Burnley General Hospital was like a second home to us for a while and Ava was affectionately known as a ‘diva’ on the wards as although she is a placid and happy baby, if she is hungry, she won’t wait and you know about it!

Now Ava’s home and her brothers dote on her and love her to bits. The fact Ava came home from NICU without any oxygen, feeding on her own, gaining weight and developing normally for her age despite being born at 28 weeks is a wonderful outcome.